I’m constantly thumbing through my notebook of “sketches” for future fragrances. Constantly trying to decide which ideas get priority for the coming year. This past April I had planned to release Ishtar, but just before I jumped into the formulation phase I pulled back and it never left its prototype status.
Originally Ishtar was an incense fragrance based on frankincense, benzoin and myrrh. I used a few tricks (an iso e overload being one of them) to give an expansive smoke effect. It was a nice fragrance… it was interesting, but in the end it was just a bit ordinary. There are so many great incense frags out there; for one I found the Comme de Garcons incense line quite impressive.
The Ishtar model went back into reformulation to change its direction. I took the fragrance style from incense to attar, and gave it a vintage chypre perfume twist. I kept the resinous heart of frankincense, benzoin and myrrh and set it upon a base of oakmoss (lots!) and bergamot. I then added a large dose of jasmine absolute and double-distilled patchouli and voila!! Ishtar is now reborn as a fragrance I want under the Rogue label! It is a bold, masculine chypre fragrance. The frankincense practically punches you in the face before the benzoin tames it down. The jasmine took on a quality like the florals I remember in vintage Jules. A small bite of galbabum gives the composition a dark, sappy green character before it settles into a soft leathery base.
This new Ishtar prototype will soon enter the full-batch formulation phase and will be ready for release by next spring. I tincture a rather large amount of frankincense resin for this fragrance which must rest for a period of time before I filter it. Ishtar is actually made up of about 80% natural essential oils, absolutes and resins. Not necessarily my style, as many of you may know I love my aroma chemicals -especially the banned and restricted ones 🙂 This time around I got by with just a little hydroxycitronellal and a few other goodies to seal the deal.
Yesterday I uncapped the resting formula for Fougere L’Aube to evaluate its progress and was pleasantly surprised.
The modern embellishments only occupy around 5% of the formula but the difference is a world apart!
My original concept for Fougere L’Aube was to create a simple old-school fougere, using historically correct ingredients and then tweak it from there. And so I did.
The original base formula is a bit animalic due to the play between the costus and musk. It has the slightly bitter, dry grassiness of coumarin underlying plenty of aromatic lavender and citrus… it’s a good textbook fougere with echoes that fall somewhere between vintage Fougere Royale, Canoe and Caron Pour Homme. I used some spicy clove notes to give more warmth against the amber.
And then came the tweaks. I began by giving eastern hints by boosting the sandalwood and then adding Moroccan rose absolute and camphor. I boosted the effects of the Hydroxycitronellal with Lyral because I find it to be a beautiful performing chem. Beyond that, I used a few modern chems in trace amounts (as little as one tenth of 1%) to accentuate the individual notes. The result: the fragrance, although very vintage in structure, is propelled right into the present and completely changed. It is completely different than the base formula; it is bright, it sparkles and it is lively. Fougere L’Aube still conveys its original ‘warmth of the morning sun’ but also the brisk spring morning air. The fragrance eventually settles down into the constantly radiating musk base. The musk xylol helps tie it together into a soft old-world savon fragrance at the drydown phase.
A close-up of the beaker. Look at the color of that juice! A result of the high percentage of oakmoss and other naturals.
The juice is dark green from the high percentage of oakmoss and other natural absolutes and essential oils in the formula. And from that dark green juice the brightest topnotes seem to leap right out of the bottle! I’m excited about this release. The formula has been resting but will soon be ready for bottling. Just in time for spring.
The new batches of Mouse Illuminee and Chypre-Siam are now being bottled and will be available for purchase.
Late last autumn, when the original batches reached their halfway point, I immediately set out to begin formulating new ones. Then arrived the hurdles! I already had most of the aroma chemicals and organic materials on hand, but there was still the waiting period for new stock. Some of my bases were running low so I needed to formulate new batches of those to move forward; no big deal.
The biggest hurdle: being a chef AND a new dad! The greater portion of my life is spent in the kitchen, while trying to help my wife with the baby in between.
Out & about. Running errands with the little one.
By November my catered events and banquet schedule was already back to back! Most of my perfume formulating took place at 2 or 3 in the morning -whenever I could find a free moment.
Some of the materials for Mousse Illuminee: rose otto, cypress leaf and wormwood (artemisia) EO, frankincense resin
Fast-forward and here we are in January. I’m just now at the bottling stage and am super excited to be able to offer full bottles of these fragrances for sale again. In the interim I have been working on two new formulas that I hope to complete by early spring. I’ll post more details as things progress but for now I’ll just say that one is an animalic fougere and the other a fresh incense–forward fragrance.